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July 28, 2011 |  9:39 am adds Universal Pictures movies, takes aim at Netflix has added Universal Pictures movies to Amazon Prime as it amps up the online streaming service to better compete with rivals Netflix Inc. and Hulu.

The licensing deal with NBCUniversal brings to 9,000 the number of movies and TV shows that customers can watch instantly, at no additional charge, through the Amazon Prime membership program, which also gives subscribers a shipping discount for an annual fee of $79.

Among the movies to be offered through Amazon's service are "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Babe" and "Being John Malkovich."

The announcement is another sign of intensifying competition in the digital marketplace, reflecting changes in how consumers are entertained. Earlier this week, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would begin offering 20,000 movies and TV shows to rent or purchase through its website.

"We are very excited to offer Prime members popular Universal films at no additional cost," Cameron Janes, director of Amazon Instant Video, said in a statement.

The online retailer still has a long way to go to catch up with services like Netflix, which makes about 20,000 movies and TV shows available online to subscribers.


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-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Credit: David Lee / Focus Features